by Julie M. Lucas
Growing up with veterans in the family, many feel a sense to follow in their footsteps.
When Latoya Lucas joined the Army in 1999, she never imagined her life would turn out the way it did.
During a deployment to Iraq in 2003, with what was formerly known as the 43rd Area Support Group, Lucas sustained life-threatening injuries from a rocket-propelled grenade. She was awarded a Purple Heart and has put her experiences into a book she wrote called, “The Immeasurable Spirit: Lessons of a Wounded Warrior about Faith and Perseverance.”
“I wanted people to know that no matter what is going on in your life, you need to have God in your life,” said Lucas. “God has no limits and if you believe, all things are possible.”
In her book, Lucas walks readers through her life. Her decision to join the Army, her personal troubles, and that fateful morning when she was driving a Humvee on a mission. An RPG struck the side of the vehicle she was in, leaving Lucas with a shattered pelvis and bleeding.
Lucas was mevacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where she drifted in and out of consciousness, while receiving a total of 10 blood transfusions. Lucas believes it was the power of prayer from her Family that helped her to not succumb to the trauma she sustained.
“To say those were grim hours and days would be an understatement,” Lucas wrote in her book.
Lucas was then sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., but that was no easy task. Besides setbacks trying to get on a flight, the doctors discovered internal bleeding and had to rush Lucas into emergency surgery to stop the bleeding.
While at Walter Reed, Lucas had many surgeries to pin together her shattered bones. Despite the doctors’ grave prognosis, Lucas was determined to get past her injuries.
“On day one, after I checked into Ward 58 (at Walter Reed), I developed the mentality that first, I was extremely blessed to be alive,” Lucas writes in an excerpt from her book. “Second, that I had the support of my Family to get me through this and last, that I had the will power and choice to give it all that I could to improve my physical and mental conditions as much as I could.”
Lucas received her Purple Heart in Walter Reed from the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the time, Paul Wolfowitz. In addition to having celebrities visit the wounded at Walter Reed and high-ranking military officials, Lucas met President George W. Bush and wife Laura.
“The president shook my hand and asked me about what happened to me in Iraq. He was really genuine and compassionate in his questioning,” said Lucas. “There weren’t any television cameras in my room.”
Lucas spent four months at Walter Reed and returned to Colorado. She joined service-related organizations and is the organizer for the Joe Gmelch Wounded Warrior Welcome socials held at Fort Carson.
“As a wounded warrior myself, I couldn’t help but think about how wonderful it would be to continue to serve our combat-wounded Soldiers in a different capacity,” said Lucas.
Lucas was inspired to write a book, because of the lack of books available dealing with faith for combat veterans. It took her nearly a year to complete her book. Some of the titles of the chapters include: “No Such Thing As Can’t” and “Attitude: Help You or Hurt You.”
Lucas’ dedication in her book was, “to all those who continue to remain encouraged while facing adversity and to those who pray for spiritual comforting.”
Lucas’ book was reviewed by Tom Brokaw, whom she met in Mosul, Iraq, while deployed. Brokaw says about Lucas’ book, “(The Immeasurable Spirit) is a very inspiring and uplifting story. Attitude and faith are powerful allies.”
Lucas will be signing her book March 7, at 5 p.m. at Poor Richard’s Bookstore, 320 N. Tejon St., Colorado Springs. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the bookstore at 578-0012 or to e-mail Lucas, firstname.lastname@example.org.